Monday, March 16, 2009

The Virgin of Small Plains and Proof of God

This week I needed to read a short story by a female author. I chose Proof of God, by Holly Goddard Jones, with some crazy idea that it might have some paranormal or other-worldly content. I was coming off the reading of "Virgin" and hoped for another spirit to intercede in the story. It didn't.

1. Compare/Contrast.
I think the characters in both pieces were very clearly described and developed in the length of space/time given each. There were clearly characters I think I was supposed to connect with, like Abby and Mitch in Virgin of Small Plains and Simon in Proof of God. Each had a pretty easy plot to follow. There was plenty of rising action in both pieces, and clear climactic content. The theme of Virgin was mostly about redemption, as it was with Proof of God. "Proof" told the story of a young man's life changing relationship as he comes to terms with his homosexual feelings. Characters in both stories really had issues with relationships and being able to trust those who they were closest to. They also struggled with discovering and standing up for self, and for true happiness. I much preferred reading The Virgin of Small Plains. I wasn't too convinced that Proof was genuine. It just seemed sort of fantastical or "fake".

2. Differences due to gender of author?
I'm not sure that gender of the author had anything to do with the differences in these stories. I think they were mostly differences in the style of the writers, independent of whether they were men or women. I think as a woman, knowing that Proof of God was written by a woman, I expected the story to be more sympathetic to Simon and his predicaments. It kind of felt like Simon was being judged, which turned me off.

3. Review short story.
In Proof of God, Simon is a young man who is coming to terms with his homosexual identity. He has a father who is controlling and judgemental. Simon is dealing with his feelings and is still "in the closet" to everyone around him. He meets and befriends another young man, Marty, who Simon begins to spend all his time with. Marty and Simon become best friends, but Simon begins to become romantically infatuated with Marty. The story really confused me at this point, because it led me to believe that Marty may also have been gay. Marty, being a womanizer, really says and does some things that I felt could have led Simon on.

Marty ends up trying to "help" Simon, when he finds out that Simon is a virgin. He tries to arrange for Simon to have sex with a young lady Marty had just met and had sex with recently. I wasn't too sure about Marty's intent, and wondered if he didn't arrange all the upcoming events in an effort to convince both Simon AND himself, that they should be "manly".

Marty and Simon sneak into the Felicia's dorm room, where Marty tries to get her stoned and vulnerable. He tries to lead Simon in a gang rape of Felicia. When it all goes bad, the boys panic and hurt the girl. The story comes full circle when Simon tells his father about the whole thing, and Simon's dad tries to help him cover up his participation in the events of the night.

I just didn't really care for the story. It seemed really "fake", if that makes any sense. I just couldn't hardly accept that Simon's dad was okay with his son's participation in all of that, rather than accept that Simon was gay.

4. Reflection.
I liked Virgin of Small Plains because of the very close knit community and the suggestion of a little paranormal activity, when the cancer patient is pelted with flowers from the tornado, and when she sees the young lady in the field as she crashes and dies. It lent an air of mystery that extended beyond the story.

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